The holiday season is not only a time for merriment and joy but also an opportunity for small businesses to thrive. According to the “Global State of Small Business Report”, which surveyed over 20,000 small businesses around the world in July 2022, 25% of small business (SMB) owners expect to make more than half of their annual revenue in the final months of the year.
As a Chamber of Commerce, your role is pivotal in supporting these local enterprises. If your community sees you helping small businesses, it not only calls attention to their needs but also shows you are supporting a very important initiative. But just how can you go about doing that when you have so little time as it is? We have some creative and effective strategies to help you help small businesses during the upcoming holiday season.
10 Ways to Make a Big Difference for Small Business
Small Business Season: Shop Local All Season
Launch a “Shop Local” campaign not just for one day but all season by being a part of Small Business Season to raise awareness about the benefits of supporting local businesses. Use social media, local publications, and community events to spread the message. The goal is to create a sense of community pride and loyalty. Best of all when you are part of Small Business Season, you receive a ton of free materials that can be used at your chamber and by your members.
Host workshops and webinars that provide small business owners with practical tips for optimizing their holiday season sales. Topics might include visual merchandising, social media marketing, or stress management. Offering these resources can equip entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed during this busy time.
Holiday Window Display Contest
Encourage businesses to participate in a holiday window display contest. This not only fosters a festive atmosphere in your community but also brings more foot traffic to local stores. Consider partnering with local media outlets to give the winners some well-deserved publicity. Some chambers use a street pole decorating contest instead.
Facilitate partnerships between local businesses to create marketing campaigns that are mutually beneficial. For instance, a café and a bookstore can team up to offer a “Read with a Brew” special. Such partnerships enhance the shopping experience and help businesses cross-promote each other.
Small Business Extravaganza
Celebrate Small Business Season with an extravaganza. Organize a festive event where local businesses can showcase their products or services or create a shopping contest or raffle. This not only attracts shoppers and incentivizes spending but also serves as a great networking opportunity for small business owners.
Digital Marketing Support
Small businesses often struggle with digital marketing. Offer workshops and resources (the Small Business Season packet offers a lot of pre-made ideas that can be customized for your town) that focus on creating compelling holiday content, optimizing websites, and leveraging social media. Provide templates and guides to help businesses get their online presence in the holiday spirit.
Work with local businesses to create holiday loyalty programs. These could include discounts, special deals, or loyalty cards for frequent shoppers. If you’re hosting a shopping event around town, create a “Return Discount Card” that provides discounts on another day to encourage repeat business and build strong customer relationships. Kohl’s does this with their “Kohl’s Cash.” It’s awarded the day of spending and then valid for a specified day(s) in the future. The customer has already bought from you once. It shouldn’t be hard to get them back.
Don’t forget your makers and creators in your community. Today’s fair vendor could be tomorrow’s storefront as a lot of vendors try selling this way because it has a low barrier of entry. Once they build up a following, they can consider opening a brick-and-mortar.
Pop-up markets are a great way to support local artisans and entrepreneurs. Help businesses organize these markets to showcase their products. Consider hosting these markets in strategic locations to attract more shoppers. You may also be able to make introductions between these artisans and member businesses with storefronts that might carry their products.
Decorate the Business District
Bright and festive holiday decorations can transform your business district into a winter wonderland. Encourage local businesses to participate in decorating efforts, and consider organizing a holiday decorating contest or bring Santa and other characters in to create a family-friendly draw where community members can make memories for years to come. In Tarpon Springs, Florida the First Friday Event in December becomes a Winter Wonderland with homemade snow festive photo ops. Some people use these types of holiday traditions to take their family’s annual photo.
Lastly, remember the true spirit of the season by organizing charitable initiatives. The end of the year is one of the busiest times for nonprofits as people are looking for places to give. Occasionally, people don’t know the local nonprofits and so they end up donating money to large national charities. Keep your donations local so you can ensure that money helps your community.
Encourage small businesses to give back to your town through food drives, toy collections, or partnerships with local charities. Highlight these efforts to show that your chamber and its members are dedicated to the well-being of the community.
The holiday season is a prime opportunity to boost the success of small businesses within your community. By implementing these creative strategies, your Chamber of Commerce can provide valuable support and ensure that the local businesses you represent have a memorable and prosperous holiday season. Together, through Small Business Season, we can unwrap success for our local entrepreneurs and spread holiday cheer throughout the community.